STARRING: KIMBERLY BROOKS, RHYS DARBY, JOSH KEATON, TYLER LABINE, JEREMY SHADA | EPISODES REVIEWED: 8.1 – 8.13 | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
Netflix appears to have figured out how to tap the deepest mines of nostalgia in order to create not only huge amounts of gold, but also fun. The final season of Voltron: Legendary Defender debuted recently, drawing to a close a near perfect example as to how to take an old franchise and breathe new life into it. Voltron: Legendary Defender is a retelling of 1984’s Lion Force Voltron, an American TV show that cut-up and re-edited a cartoon show popular in Japan, in order to sell cool toys.
Voltron: Legendary Defender took the core ideas of the original series and created something more coherent, accessible and fun. The show is about five people who get chosen to become Paladins of Voltron, responsible for an ancient alien weapon. This powerful space-robot is composed of five giant robot lions, each with its own unique abilities, each lion piloted by a Paladin. Over the course of the last seven seasons, our heroes have fought against an impossibly powerful alien empire, forming alliances and attempting to purge the galaxy of an evil that could end everything.
The show thus far has been quite deep in regards to its mythos. This is a space opera world with its own magic, ancient mysteries and long-lost alien races each with forgotten secrets. The character development has been slow and steady. By season eight, we are pretty much comfortable with what each hero is and what they can become. Various plot threads and character arcs that lay in plain sight finally come to play here; there are plenty of surprises, but each one feels expected.
The same is true for the bad guys. We find the final truths behind the origins of Voltron as well as the secret behind Haggar, Zarkon and Lotor. Without going into spoilers, this is where the brilliance behind the show lies. Turns out that a longing for a past tends to lead to disastrous results. For a property so steeped in nostalgia, it’s hard to ignore this central message. Voltron: Legendary Defender is a show that drew from the past to create something new. As we see the various tragedies and triumphs of the characters in the show, it becomes obvious that those willing to learn from the past gain clarity and a future, while those desperate to repeat the mistakes of history while yearning for a time that never was, are doomed.
If you love giant robots, space lions, silly tropes, elves and magic, then you’ll love this show. It’s much cleverer than you think it is, and that’s what makes it solid gold.